Located on the fifth floor of the QEII’s Halifax Infirmary, one of the region’s most technologically advanced operating suites stands on guard for patients. The new Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR is Atlantic Canada’s first hybrid operating room (OR) and thanks to QEII Foundation donors, it will have a transformational impact on patient care.
Government supported all construction and infrastructure costs to establish the QEII’s newest surgical suite. But it was the generosity of more than 200 QEII Foundation donors who funded $4 million worth of best-in-class technology inside of it. This includes a $1-million donation by Stewart Allen, for whom the space is named.
Forty per cent larger than the QEII’s other ORs, the Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR combines the features of a standard OR, a cardiac catheterization lab and an imaging suite. The end result means surgical teams can perform diagnostic imaging, minimally invasive procedures, complex open surgeries, or a combination of all three — all in the same room, at the same time.
It’s a game-changer for our region, especially when treating trauma patients — like car accident victims — or if an emergency situation arises in the OR. By eliminating the physical divide between the operating room and essential diagnostic imaging, patients will no longer need to be transferred to different floors or care areas for their imaging needs.
“In this leading-edge space, many teams and specialties can now converge and provide the care the patient needs in one setting — the Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR — rather than have the patient move from room to room to be treated by different specialists,” says Dr. Patrick Casey, vascular surgeon at the QEII. “This real-time imaging saves critical time and has an incredible impact on patient care.”
It’s fitting that Atlantic Canada’s first hybrid OR is named in honour of Stewart Allen. The self-made business leader and visionary philanthropist began his early career in Truro, N.S., starting as a helper on a beverage delivery truck. Ten years later, he was the vice-president of sales and moved on to lead many companies that have fueled economic development in Atlantic Canada and around the globe.
While Stewart now lives in Toronto, the East Coast and medicine have long held a special place in his heart. Each year, Stewart funds the medical education of a student through the Stewart E. Allen Bursary in Medicine at Dalhousie University.
Real-time imaging in the OR unlocks many benefits, including the ability to perform more minimally invasive procedures, smaller incisions, less stress on the heart, shorter recovery times for patients, and more. However, one benefit that resonated most with Stewart was the role the Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR could play in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest surgeons — which could one day include some of the same students he’s supported.
“There’s no question that this hybrid OR will help us attract and train the very best clinicians,” says Dr. Christine Herman, QEII cardiac and vascular surgeon. “When hospitals are equipped with the most advanced technology available, talented healthcare teams and residents gravitate to that.”
Generous donors, like Stewart, make the purchase of that technology possible — the best equipment the market has to offer that healthcare teams otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
It’s a prime example of the QEII Foundation’s $100-million We Are campaign at work and the role philanthropy can play in elevating health care to new heights.
“Thanks to generous donors, our patients will now have access to this life-saving technology and innovation,” says Dr. Herman. “Rapid access to care can mean the matter of life or death — and that’s priceless.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Susan Mullin, president and CEO of the QEII Foundation.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging few years for our healthcare teams, but moments like these remind us of the real, tangible impact we can have on the lives of others,” says Susan. “We thank Stewart for his visionary $1-million investment and the many other donors who have made this milestone possible for all Nova Scotians.”
The Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR is slated to treat its first patients later this year, with procedures spanning cardiac, vascular and orthopaedic care to name a few.
For Stewart and his daughters, Jacki and Jessi, it’s exciting to see the state-of-the-art surgical suite come to life.
“Our family is thrilled to celebrate the opening of the new Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR,” says Stewart. “This life-saving space will help ensure patients have more time with their families, which is why we’re incredibly proud to support this initiative through the QEII Foundation.”
To view a virtual tour of the QEII’s Stewart E. Allen Hybrid OR, visit QE2Foundation.ca/HybridOR.